Intelligence cycle
Encyclopedia
The traditional Intelligence cycle is a concept that describes the fundamental cycle
Cycle (graph theory)
In graph theory, the term cycle may refer to a closed path. If repeated vertices are allowed, it is more often called a closed walk. If the path is a simple path, with no repeated vertices or edges other than the starting and ending vertices, it may also be called a simple cycle, circuit, circle,...

of intelligence
Intelligence (information gathering)
Intelligence assessment is the development of forecasts of behaviour or recommended courses of action to the leadership of an organization, based on a wide range of available information sources both overt and covert. Assessments are developed in response to requirements declared by the leadership...

processing in a civilian or military intelligence agency
Intelligence agency
An intelligence agency is a governmental agency that is devoted to information gathering for purposes of national security and defence. Means of information gathering may include espionage, communication interception, cryptanalysis, cooperation with other institutions, and evaluation of public...

or in law enforcement as a closed path
Path (graph theory)
In graph theory, a path in a graph is a sequence of vertices such that from each of its vertices there is an edge to the next vertex in the sequence. A path may be infinite, but a finite path always has a first vertex, called its start vertex, and a last vertex, called its end vertex. Both of them...

consisting of repeating nodes
Vertex (graph theory)
In graph theory, a vertex or node is the fundamental unit out of which graphs are formed: an undirected graph consists of a set of vertices and a set of edges , while a directed graph consists of a set of vertices and a set of arcs...

. The stages of the intelligence cycle include the issuance of requirements by decision makers, collection, processing, analysis, and publication of intelligence. The circuit is completed when decision makers provide feedback and revised requirements.

### Direction

Intelligence requirement
Intelligence requirement
An intelligence requirement is an intelligence need that is specified by a decision maker, who passes the request to an intelligence agency, where an answer is developed and then disseminated. The formulation, setting, and evaluation of intelligence requirements are important elements of the...

s are determined by a decision maker to meet his/her objectives. In the Federal government of the United States
Federal government of the United States
The federal government of the United States is the national government of the constitutional republic of fifty states that is the United States of America. The federal government comprises three distinct branches of government: a legislative, an executive and a judiciary. These branches and...

, requirements can be issued from the White House
White House
The White House is the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States. Located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C., the house was designed by Irish-born James Hoban, and built between 1792 and 1800 of white-painted Aquia sandstone in the Neoclassical...

or the Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

. In NATO, a commander
Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

uses requirements (sometimes called 'Essential Elements of Intelligence (EEIs))to initiate the intelligence cycle.

### Collection

In response to requirements, an intelligence staff develops an intelligence collection plan
Intelligence collection plan
An intelligence collection plan is the systematic process used by most modern armed forces and intelligence services to meet intelligence requirements through the tasking of all available resources to gather and provide pertinent information within a required time limit...

applying available sources and methods and seeking intelligence from other agencies. Depending on the organization and its access, sources may include HUMINT
HUMINT
HUMINT, a syllabic abbreviation of the words HUMan INTelligence, refers to intelligence gathering by means of interpersonal contact, as opposed to the more technical intelligence gathering disciplines such as SIGINT, IMINT and MASINT...

(human intelligence), IMINT
IMINT
Imagery Intelligence , is an intelligence gathering discipline which collects information via satellite and aerial photography. As a means of collecting intelligence, IMINT is a subset of intelligence collection management, which, in turn, is a subset of intelligence cycle management...

(imagery intelligence), ELINT (electronic intelligence), SIGINT (Signals Intelligence), OSINT (open source, or publicly available intelligence), etc.

### Processing

Once the collection plan is executed and information arrives, it is processed for exploitation. This involves the translation
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

of raw intelligence materials from a foreign language, evaluation
Evaluation
Evaluation is systematic determination of merit, worth, and significance of something or someone using criteria against a set of standards.Evaluation often is used to characterize and appraise subjects of interest in a wide range of human enterprises, including the arts, criminal justice,...

of relevance and reliability, and collation
Collation
Collation is the assembly of written information into a standard order. One common type of collation is called alphabetization, though collation is not limited to ordering letters of the alphabet...

of the raw intelligence in preparation for exploitation.

### Analysis

Analysis establishes the significance and implications of processed intelligence, integrates it by combining disparate pieces of information to identify collateral information and patterns, then interprets the significance of any newly developed knowledge.

### Dissemination

Finished intelligence products take many forms depending on the needs of the decision maker and reporting requirements. The level of urgency of various types of intelligence is typically established by an intelligence organization or community. An indications and warning (I&W) bulletin would require higher precedence than an annual report, for example.

### Feedback

The intelligence cycle is a closed loop; feedback is received from the decision maker and revised requirements issued.